This article is a guest post by digital marketer Shabbir Noor.
My name’s Shabbir Noor. I’m an online marketer, and I’ve spent the past 10 years building websites, getting hundreds of thousands of views, and learning how to be a successful publisher. One of my more recent projects was from a site I worked on from inception in 2020 to 2021:
If there’s one thing I’ve learned after all this time, it’s this: you need to have great SEO for a site to thrive. Without it, you risk never building an audience.
You’ve probably heard all this before: that on-page SEO is important, that you need it for a successful site, etc. But if you’re anything like the standard publisher, you might be unsure where to start.
It can be overwhelming to try and figure out what on-page SEO changes you need to make to your website. This is because there are so many factors that go into on-page optimization!
We’ve got you covered. This 12-step guide will take you through everything from identifying on-page SEO issues to fixing them. Plus, we’ll give you a checklist of on-page SEO best practices to follow for your website.
The best part? It’ll take less than 10 minutes to fix any glaring issues.
The one tool you’ll need
Before we begin, let’s talk about a crucial tool you’ll need for this process.
While you can certainly do an on-page SEO audit by hand by checking the source code, it’s a huge pain to do so. Instead, there are some great Chrome extensions available will drastically speed up this process for you. My favorite is the Detailed SEO Extension, which you can download here. It’s available for both Chrome and Firefox.
Step 1. Check that your page is indexable
The first step in any on-page SEO audit is to check whether search engines can index your pages. If a page can’t be indexed, it won’t rank in search results.
To quickly check if a page can be indexed, visit the page and open the Detailed extension. Then, next to the URL, make sure that it shows a green “indexable” message.
If your page is not indexable, you’ll have to check the individual page or your site’s robots.txt file to see where you’ve blocked it from being indexed.
If you use WordPress, consider using an SEO plugin like Yoast or Rank Math to mark pages as “Index” or “Noindex easily.”
Step 2. Check that your page title contains the keyword
The title tag is one of the most critical on-page SEO factors. The title of your page should contain the keyword you’re trying to rank for.
If it doesn’t, then you need to update it.
To check if your page title contains the keyword, open up the Detailed extension and look at the “Page Title” section. The extension should list the title of your page here.
If it’s not, you’ll need to edit the title tag on your page. Your title tag should be a mix of your keyword and something that entices people to click on your site in the SERP.
Step 3. Check that your page H1 contains the keyword
After the title tag, the H1 tag is the second most important on-page SEO factor. As with the title tag, the H1 on your page should contain the keyword you’re trying to rank for.
The easiest way to do this is just to keep your page title and your H1 tag the same.
Step 4. Check that your page URL contains the keyword
The URL of your page is also essential for on-page SEO. Therefore, you want to ensure that your keyword is in the URL, preferably at the beginning.
To check if your keyword is in the URL, open up the Detailed extension and look at the “Page URL” section. You can also just look at the browser’s URL bar (usually at the top or bottom of your screen).
If your keyword is not in the URL, you’ll need to make a call whether to change the URL or to leave it as it is.
When you change the URL, Google effectively sees the page as something completely new. So if this page is already getting search traffic, you risk losing some or all of it by changing the URL, even if you do a redirect.
If you’re already getting traffic from keywords related to your target phrase, it may be worth skipping the URL and focusing on everything else.
Step 5. Check that your page has a good heading structure
The heading structure on your page is important for on-page SEO. It helps Google understand the hierarchy of your content and makes it easier to scan.
A good heading structure looks like this:
H1: The keyword you’re targeting
H2: A variation of the keyword or a closely related keyword and a larger topic within the scope of your content
H3: Another variation of the keyword or a closely related keyword and a smaller topic within the scope of your content
H4-H6: Subtopics, if necessary
To check that your page has a good heading structure, open up the Detailed extension and look at the “Headings” section.
Also, check out the current pages in the top 10 results and see what headings they’re covering. Make sure you’ve covered all of them.
You should add that section to your content if you’re missing anything.
Step 6. Check that you’ve used the keyword in paragraph tags
The next on-page SEO factor to check is whether or not you’ve used your keyword in the paragraph tags on your page.
You have to strike a balance between using the keyword a few times to signal that this is what your page is about but not to the point of keyword stuffing (keyword stuffing is when you add an unnaturally high amount of your target keyword to your content to try and fool search engines).
A good rule of thumb is to use your keyword as 1-2% of your entire content. You can also use word distribution analysis tools like WordCounter to see how many times you’ve used certain words.
Step 7. Check that you have an enticing meta description
The meta description on your page is important for on-page SEO. The meta description appears in the SERP under your title and should be written to entice clicks.
Your meta description should be less than 160 characters, and it should be a mix of your keyword and something that will get people to click on your link.
Google does not (supposedly) consider the meta description as a ranking factor. Still, it does consider how many clicks your result gets when shown, so you want to optimize your meta description to get people to click on your result rather than anyone else’s!
Step 8. Check that you have optimized images and that your images have alt tags
Images are a great way to add more content to your page and can help with on-page SEO if you optimize them properly.
Make sure all of your images have alt tags that describe what the image is about. These help Google understand what your images are about, and they also help Google show your images in image search results.
WordPress makes this very easy to do. If you just click on the image in the Gutenberg editor, you can change the alt text in the panel on the right side.
In case the panel is not showing up, click on the gear icon in the top right corner and make sure the “block” tab is enabled.
You should also ensure that your images are compressed, so they don’t take too long to load. No one wants to wait around for images to load, so make sure they’re optimized!
Use a tool like ShortPixel to compress your images.
If you use Ezoic Leap, we have a feature that automatically serves your images in an optimized, light format.
Step 9. Check that you have external links going to authority sites
External links are links on your page that go to other websites. These are important for on-page SEO because they show Google that you’re linking to relevant, high-quality websites to cite what you’re saying.
A common misconception many publishers have is that they think the best SEO practices involve only linking to internal content. This isn’t true; having external links (like that one!) to helpful, authoritative links is crucial to show Google that your article is useful.
The number of external links on your page doesn’t matter as much as the quality of the websites you’re linking to. So make sure you’re only linking out to websites that are relevant and high quality!
Step 10. Check that your page has internal links to and from it
Internal links are just as important as external links! Internal links help Google understand the hierarchy of your website and what each page is about.
In addition, internal links pass authority from stronger pages on your site to others, and they’ll help Google and search engines discover which topics are connected.
They also help keep people on your website longer by giving them more content to read.
Ensure you’re internally linking to other relevant pages on your website whenever possible. Sharp-eyed readers will notice how we’ve linked to other pages on the Ezoic blog from this post itself!
Step 11. Check that your page is mobile friendly
Mobile friendliness is a significant on-page SEO factor because more and more people are using mobile devices to search the web, up to 56% of total internet users in 2021.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll lose out on ranking in the SERPs. Not to mention, you’re going to give users a terrible experience, likely resulting in them bouncing from your website.
You can check how mobile-friendly your website is with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. Just enter your URL, and it will let you know if your website is mobile-friendly or not.
If your site is not mobile-friendly, you’ll have to change the theme or hire a developer to help you.
Aside from content, mobile friendliness is among the most important ranking factors in the 2020s.
Step 12. Check your page speed
Page speed is another on-page SEO factor that’s becoming increasingly important.
Users expect websites to load quickly, and if yours doesn’t, you will lose out on ranking in the SERPs.
You can check your page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Just enter your URL, which will tell you how fast your website loads on desktop and mobile devices.
If your website doesn’t load quickly, you’ll need to hire a developer to help you fix the issue.
Again, if you’re using Ezoic, Leap will take care of all this.
If you’re not using Leap, then we’ve got an in-depth guide to speed optimization, which you can check out here.
On-page SEO audits are important to any website’s digital marketing strategy. They help you identify and fix any on-page SEO issues that your website may have, which can help you improve your website’s ranking in the SERPs.
If you’re not doing on-page SEO audits regularly, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to improve your website’s performance.
Shabbir Noor helps market online businesses. He has extensive experience in content marketing and networking. Learn more at ShabbirNoor.com.